frank. It’s just another f*#ing phone.
This is the blunt, simple message the team behind the frank. phone are pushing to the masses. While I’m not sure I’m on board with this youthful, don’t-give-a-crap marketing strategy, I will say I am on board with the idea of a start-up business selling another cheap alternative Android device in North America. Especially if that business is Canadian based (call me biased), and began with a young man only in his teens. I don’t know about you, but at that age, I was focused on completing high school and worked at a grocery store. Kudos to this young man!
The frank. phone is an upcoming smartphone that will be sold for only $180 US to early backers via an Indiegogo campaign. That price tag will include the phone, case, and a one year warranty. Past that point, the regular fee will be $239 USD.
That’s a lot of phone for those low fees!
This phone has already developed a bit of controversy over the internet. There has been a few blogs I’ve come across where the writers decided to pull the act of a private eye and dissect not just this device, but also the team beside the scenes.
The frank. team has spoken of designing their own phone, but then decided to choose a device from China, customise it, re-brand it, and import it here, and add Android 7.0. Personally, I see no problem with this. The frank. team will handle all all the hustle and bustle of dealing with a product overseas. Exchange rates, shipping, and duty fees can be costly.
The business itself had planned on using Kickstarter to raise funds and get the ball rolling. When they chose to go with Indiegogo instead, it too caused some red flags for many. Again, all can relax. A tweet from Fahd Alhattab stated, “We made the shift when we were offered a better promotions package with Indiegogo and thought it was worthwhile to get the help.”
I don’t see anything fishy about that. You shouldn’t either.
The prototype device I was sent by the frank. team isn’t what will be sold to the public. Once all is said and done, the team informed me frank. will consist of the following specs;
Processor: 1.5GHz Octa Core Processor
OS: Android 7.0
Screen: 5.5″ 1920×1080 IPS Panel
Rear Camera: 16MP f2.0 Samsung 3P3
Front Camera: 8MP f2.2 Sony IMX219
Charging: USB-C 2A Fast Charging
In comparison, the prototype I have in hand now has a 21MP rear camera (that runs poorly and is in mid-development) and Android 6.0.
As I understand it, what will stay as-is now is the physical hardware. The navigation keys are placed in a Samsung-style fashion with the capacitive back button on the right. Personally, I don’t care for this, but we all know one can would eventually get used to it. The capacitive button on the left on my demo unit brings up the menu option for apps. I haven’t been able to figure how to bring up the list of recent apps. This will most likely be corrected before final release.
The centre button is clickable, and also acts as a fingerprint scanner. Normally, just tapping the sensor will wake and unlock the phone. In my case, I have to click the phone first to wake it, and then it will unlock if it reads my finger correctly – which it does do nearly every time. This is comparable to how my wife has to unlock her iPhone 6s. Personally, I don’t care for having to click the button.
The fit and finish of the device itself is simple and clean. My wife looked at it and said it even reminded her of my Nexus 6P because of the glass across the top of the rear-side of the frank. phone. Holding this device in hand is perfectly fine, and doesn’t have any sharp edges that bother me.
I’m not about to start dropping this prototype to test durability, but it looks like the frank. team already did that for me, as this device’s power button has been damaged, and now rests at a 35 degree angle. Pushing the button still works though!
One fact that stood out to me (and made me want to put on sunglasses) is the screen is very bright. I had to drop down the brightness level to around 10% just to be able to look at it indoors. Outside in the sun, I had zero troubles seeing my screen.
As mentioned, the software is no where near complete. My prototype demo is running Android 6.0 with some minor changes here and there. Upon release, the phone will come with Android 7.0. There’s been no word on if or when Android 8.0 Oreo will see the frank. phone.
Currently, the OS is very light and there hasn’t been too much changed or added. Some features I noticed are;
- Turbo Download – This will use both WiFi and data at the same time to download large content faster. I haven’t tested this myself, but my colleague Martin Guay who’s also written about this phone, says it does work well.
- Notification selection – There’s an easier method of selecting between normal, silent, and vibrate.
Whether or not these features remain, or more will be added, remains to be seen in the end product.
So, is it worth buying?
If you need a simple device to just get the job done – being social media, texting, and other productivity apps, this will do you very well. Even the prototype I have doesn’t feel sluggish. It doesn’t feel at all like a device that only costs $180-$239 USD.
There are other devices out there in the same price range, such as the Sony Xperia XA1, or the Motorola Moto G5. In comparison, the frank. phone will be slightly ahead in regards to specs. How important that difference is will be up to you.